On September 19, 2016, First 5 LA staff colleagues (Antoinette, Barbara, Christie, Christina A., Daniela, Janaya, Jennifer C., Jennifer C., Jessica M., John W., Kim B., Kim P.B., Manuel, Marcella, Natasha & Tara) attended the Annual Southern California Grantmakers Conference in Los Angeles. Attendees were moved by the inspirational keynote speakers who discussed complex issues and challenged participants to be bold and innovative. To access the videos from the various keynote speakers, including Forest Whitaker, click on the following link:


The Integration and Learning Department asked attendees to share key reflections from the conference which are included below.

A key takeaway from the conference for most First 5 LA attendees was how important it is to build authentic, effective partnerships with grantees and partners. This entails cultivating and maintaining strong, trusting relationships with grantees and partners so they can openly share successes and challenges in implementing the work. This requires funders to listen closely and be more flexible to address challenges experienced by the grantees or partners. It is equally important to engage grantees and allies, including other funders, as thought partners to develop innovative solutions to be complex problems. Given First 5 LA’s strategic direction of intentionally collaborating more with others internally and externally, these conference learnings are relevant to current and future work.

Another highlight from participants was the importance of having funders use the equity lense to asses if the funded activities are truly making a difference in the lives of those most impacted by the policies and systems. Equity is not the same as equality. Whereas equality focuses on giving the same thing to two people, equity involves trying to understand and give each person what they specifically need.

Next year, the Integration and Learning Department will be providing more opportunities for staff to share key learnings from conferences and other convenings. In the spirit of sharing, below you will find links to resources on enhancing relationships with grantees.